5 Killed as Libyan Forces, Islamist Fighters Clash in Benghazi - News Hunter Magazine

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

5 Killed as Libyan Forces, Islamist Fighters Clash in Benghazi

BENGHAZI—At least five people were killed and 35 wounded in clashes
between Libyan pro-government forces and Islamist fighters in
Benghazi, medics and military officials said.

Army special forces and troops led by former general Khalifa Haftar
have been fighting to oust Islamist groups in the eastern coastal city
since October and have managed to retake the airport area and army
camps that were seized in August.

Islamist groups have managed to retain some control over the port and
the Lithi residential area.

The fighting is part of a wider struggle for control of the North
African country which sits on Africa's largest oil reserves. Former
rebel groups which helped topple Moammar Gadhafi in a 2011,
NATO-backed uprising now fight each other.

In August, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and his cabinet were
forced out of Tripoli when a group called Libya Dawn seized the
capital and they now operate from Bayda, east of Benghazi.

A new administration, not recognized internationally, has been set up
in Tripoli.

Areas under control

Fadhal al-Hassi, a senior officer in Haftar's forces, said that
pro-government forces moved into the Lithi district, where Islamist
groups including Ansar al-Sharia are still mostly in control,
according to military officials.

Medics at one Benghazi hospital told a Reuters reporter that at least
five bodies had been brought in since the morning and that more
casualties were expected as fighting is still raging. About 500 people
have been killed since October, medics say.

Security and the political situation in Libya has been complicated by
the Benghazi fighting, where Haftar has merged his forces with the
army under a mandate from the elected parliament, which is allied to
Thinni.

Libya Dawn says Haftar is attacking residential areas with aircraft
and artillery, aided by Egypt. Both deny this.

Egypt's army toppled elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and has
cracked down on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.



Credit: Reuter

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